Restoring faith

My son wanted a sharp karambit. (That’s one of those wacky curved knives with a circle on one end for your pinky, I guess so you can twirl it in a knife fight.) He has a couple inexpensive ones, but they are difficult to sharpen and/or keep sharp because their blades are made of some generic stainless steel.

I thought I’d look around and find him a decent one. A short search brought up a new karambit manufactured by the Ontario Knife Company, or OKC, an American knife manufacturer out of Naples, NY (residing in Ontario county, thus the name).

I was aware of OKC because they make a pair of regular folder knives, the Rat 1 and Rat 2, which are critically acclaimed as being among the best values for their price in the industry. I don’t however, own anything by them yet.

I decided to trust that their reported reputation for quality would extend into their other knife lines as well.

I went ahead and purchased the OKC Curve from Blade HQ.

Ontario Knife Company Curve Karambit in black

The Curve is a fixed blade karambit-style knife with an black-coated blade and a handle made out of composite laminated hardwood. It is slim and lightweight and felt comfortable in my hand. I’m not a karabit-type person, but I like this one. It appears well-build, sturdy, and has an interesting design.

It has an overall length of 7.875 inches. The blade length is 3.875 inches with a cutting edge of 3 inches. The blade is made of 1095 carbon steel (like some of my swords) with a hardness of 55-57 RC.

The nylon sheath was equally well-constructed and has a plastic liner inside to protect the nylon from the blade.

Now every knife I’ve ever purchased has come sharp out of the box. Sharp enough to slice paper or even shave hair on your arm.

But this one was relatively dull, by my standards. Disappointingly so. It tore paper and certainly didn’t shave hair. It didn’t even pass the finger nail test.

So I attempted to sharpen it using my Lansky sharpening system with stones specially rounded for curved blades. I immediately ran into trouble trying to keep it secured because of the shape of the knife.

OKC Curve spine facing forward

I don’t know if you can tell in the picture, but the spine of the blade about halfway toward the point starts to taper. Because of that, I had difficulty keeping the Lansky knife clamp secured onto the blade.

The clamp kept slipping during sharpening, no matter how much I tightened it, which posed a slight safety hazard to my fingers.

The clamp also put some light scratches on the knife’s black finish.

After two days of frustrating work, the knife wasn’t much sharper than when I started. It cut paper easily enough, but it still didn’t have the edge I wanted.

So, I emailed OKC expressing my dissatisfaction. I explained the blade came too dull for my tastes and I had attempted to sharpen it without success because the shape of the blade thwarted my attempts.

I finished by saying, even though the fit and finish of the knife is of good quality, I wasn’t sure I’d be a future customer.

I thought that would be the end of it. I had my say, the company would delete the email, and life would go on.

Imagine my surprise when I received an answer. And not just a stock reply, “thank you for contacting us, blah blah blah, please accept this attempt to mollify you,” but a real honest to goodness response from a real honest to goodness customer service person concerned about my issue and wanting to rectify the situation!

She said if I sent the knife to them, they would professionally sharpen it or even replace it, if necessary. She even included a FedEx shipping label.

Within a fortnight, they returned my knife, which now had a nice, shiny professional edge on it! And it cost me nothing.

To be honest, although I have read and watched several good reviews on the OKC Rat 1 and Rat 2, I hadn’t considered purchasing either knife any time soon because I have several other knives on my Wish List ahead of them.

But after experiencing such great customer service and learning that here was that rarist of breeds — a company that really does give a damn about customer satisfaction and is willing to go the extra mile to achieve it — my next knife purchase will definitely be from the Ontario Knife Company.

Thanks, OKC. You’re good people.

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Boker Magnum Mermaid

I purchased a Boker Magnum Mermaid knife because it looked interesting.

It is made of a beautiful gleaming stainless steel that looks like water, almost. Boker calls the color spectrum.

I made my first ever YouTube video of the unboxing (because isn’t that what people do?) and my first impressions.

If you watch you’ll see exactly why Im a writer and not a public speaker.

I hope you enjoy it.

It isn’t something that I’ll every day carry, although it is very sharp and despite the handle being stainless, it feels secure in my grip.

It is a solid knife with no blade play whatsoever and a very solid lockup from the liner lock.

Although the flipper action isn’t quite what I exoected. The only other flipper I have, a POS Wartech, is spring assisted so when I flip it open, it snaps all the way open first try.

I tried oiling the Mermaid last night to see if that would help, but no. It flips open only until the flipper disappears into the handle and no more. Sure, I can give it a hard wrist snap and sometimes it’ll lock open, but compared to my Schrade, it takes much more effort to open the Mermaid.

Still, it’ll make a unique addition to my collection even if I don’t ever use it.

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Just another random Friday

Friday Haiku

Christmas is coming

The children are excited

Adults, not so much

New ADHD-fueled interest

And just like that, I have a new interest. I should have seen it coming when I blogged about the knife I found from my father-in-law (I reworded that sentence to avoid making father-in-law possessive because I’m not sure if it is father’s-in-law or father-in-law’s).

My new sudden interest is, of course, knives. Since that blog, I’ve purchased a new folder by Schrade. It caught my eye because it’s aesthetically completely different from my 40-year-old Buck 503 knife.

I also purchased a knife sharpening system from Lansky because, well, I’ve never ever been able to figure out how to sharpen knives.

Sure, I’ve tried. I’ve had people explain it (but have never had anyone teach me), I’ve read books, and I’ve watched videos. Yet for whatever reason, the concept escapes me in actual practice.

I just can’t maintain a consistent angle as I drag the knife across a sharpening stone and more often than not the edge ends up as dull as when I started. I suspect I’m just not coordinated enough or don’t have the attention span to maintain a concise angle through the entire process.

Because of this ineptitude, I’ve resorted to those drag through sharpeners. Sure, you get a sharp edge, but those things also are very aggressive in removing metal. After years of use your nicely shaped knife blade has been reduced to nothing for than a icepick thick filet knife.

So after watching several YouTube videos of people getting their knives so sharp they can shave with them (one showed the guy splitting hairs! I’ve always wanted to split hairs), I decided I needed a sharpening system that held the knife and stone at the precise angle throughout the entire process.

Thus, the Lansky sharpening system. It’s inexpensive, especially when compared to those $300+ systems out there. I chose the Natural Arkansas hones because, well, I don’t know. Maybe natural and Arkansas triggered a more pleasurable response than their other offerings.

Maybe I’ll make a video sometime of shaving or splitting hairs.

Balisong

No, not the Bali Hai song, I’m talking about those flipper type knives known as butterfly knives that originated in the Philippines.

While in the Navy, an old salt was talking about those knives. He was telling me a story about why they were called butterfly knives. He said, when sailors were stationed in the Philippines, they’d often have Filipino girl friends. Jealous girl friends, who, if they thought you were cheating on them *snigit!* they’d suddenly flip open one of these knives and ask, not so gently, “You butterfly?” The appropriate response to which, if you wanted to remain intact and unpunctured, would be a wholehearted, “No! Me no butterfly!”

Anyway, that’s what I was told. It could have been just another sea tale for all I know.

Anyway, the reason I brought up the topic of balisongs or butterfly knives is because my ADHD has made them the next must have it now thing. So I’m reading up on them and watching YouTube videos. They’re like very sharp, very dangerous fidget spinners, so of course, I want one.

Although, I wonder how well I could flip considering my general lack of coordination. I haven’t even been able to finger roll a pen very fast (think of the Top Gun classroom scene where Val Kilmer’s character, Iceman, spins his pen), so I doubt if I can achieve moves like the following:

Maybe I should start with an unsharpened trainer first, since we never seem to have an adequate supply of bandaids in our house. I swear someone is eating them.

Flynn folds

If you’re a #Resistor there has been some good news today.

Mike Flynn has plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI, re: the Russian Probe.

Amy Siskind tweeted: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on Friday that President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea is a sign that the House Judiciary Committee has enough evidence to probe the president for obstruction of justice.

Good times.

Not welcome here

The Orange Turd is such a bumbling jackass, who is not only straining all our relationships with our allies, but now he’s not even welcone to visit our staunchest ally, the United Kingdom.

Anyone who had the erroneous belief President Obama somehow made America a joke needs to open their eyes to what the Orange Turd is doing. No one is laughing at is, they’re embarrassed by us and don’t even want us to visit them any more.

The manchild is a witless buffoon who needs to be removed from office ASAP.

He’s campaigning for a child molester for Cripe’s sake!

Impeachment isn’t enough for him, we need to invoke the 2tth Amendment and get rid of him completely.

End note

Today’s the first day of December as many of us rush headlong into Christmas and debt. Try not to think about that and just have a great weekend.

I leave you with this:

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The lonely forgotten knife

Several years before my father-in-law passed away, he was clearing out stuff he felt he wasn’t going to need much longer.

He gave me a beat-up old toolbox filled with a variety of well-worn tools. I’m not the handyman he was, by any stretch of the imagination, but I took the box graciously.

When I got home, I browsed through it, vaguely noting that it had pliers, wrenches, a partial set of sockets, long screwdrivers, a battered tape measure, a nub of a straw hand broom, and an old pocketknife. The knife was dirty, tarnished, with some paint specks on the rustic, imitation wood handle. It was not very attractive, so I left it inside the box and set the box in the corner of the basement and promptly forgot about it.

Until last night when I had an ADHD attack of I’m suddenly interested in this thing! Now! Get the thing! Where is the thing?! I need the thing!

Other ADHDers can relate.

So, I dug the knife out. Examined it and attempted to clean it up with Q-tips, some rubbing alcohol, and a little oil.

It looked like your average well-used, utilitarian four-blade folder with a 2-1/2 inch spear blade, a plain punch, a screwdriver-caplifter, a can opener, and a shackle (key ring?).

2017-11-15 07.55.102017-11-15 07.55.22

My wife said she remembered seeing it on her father’s nightstand after he emptied his pockets every night, so we determined it was probably his every day carry (EDC) knife.

There were no identifying markings on the knife, no name badge on the handle, but as I cleaned it, I noticed some illegible writing on the tang of the knife blade, which I speculated spelled out the word, “stainless” on the tang of the knife blade. It looked like my FIL’s EDC was just an ordinary, plain Jane, generic folder.

Not that I should have been surprised. My FIL was an unpretentious man who cared more about how something functioned than if it was flashy or had an impressive name. I liked that about him.

As I cleaned away years of accumulated gunk however, I saw that it didn’t say “stainless” after all. There was a brand name stamped there.

It said, “CAMILLUS, NEW YORK, USA.”

Yes! Now I could indulge in my most favorite hobby of all! Research!

Camillus, my research showed, was one of America’s oldest knife companies. It was established in 1875 by Adolph Kastor, a Jewish German immigrant, and they originally imported knives until the Dingley Tariff was enacted in 1897, which made it too expensive to import knives.

To survive, they needed to manufacture knives domestically and eventually, Kastor found a small knife manufacturer in Camillus, New York.

By 1910, with Kastor now at the helm, the Camillus Cutlery Company was producing close to a million knives a year.

Camillus was a very successful company throughout the twentieth century. They provided private label knives to Sears, Craftsman, and J.C. Penny and others, and created a wide range of collectible knives honoring famous people.

When WWII began, Camillus was contracted to provide knives to the military, including the development of their KA-BAR Fighting Utility Knife, which was adopted by the U.S. Marines. After the war, Camillus began producing a full line of official knives for the Boy Scouts of America.

As the twenty-first century arrived however, the company started to struggle. Revenue declined from overseas competition, and they suffered from poor management decisions, until they declared bankruptcy and went out of business in early 2007. Later that year, their product names and intellectual property were acquired by the Acme United Corporation (a shadow corporation of Wile E. Coyote, I’m told) for a mere $200,000 in a bankruptcy auction. In 2009, Acme relaunched the Camillus name.

But my FIL’s knife? Best I can figure by the tang stamp is it was possibly manufactured sometime between between 1946 to 1950.

It resembles the Camillus Camp knife, but lacks the badge on the handle that particular knife sports in their catalogs from that era.

In their 1946 catalog, they have a page showing their Army-Navy knives. The very first one, the Army General Purpose Knife, looks exactly like my FIL’s knife.

2017-11-15 11.44.09

My wife says that makes sense because her father would have been 18 years old in ’46 and he joined the Air Force a few years later. It’s possible therefore, that he either received the knife while in the Air Force or purchased it at the base PX.

And now that little folder, which once languished alone and forgotten in the bottom of a toolbox, now has an interesting history behind it and a prominent place in my collection.

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